Capstone Senior Design Projects

The Capstone Senior Design Project courses in Mechatronics Engineering (JEM 484 & 485) require students to work in an team environment to develop a solution to a specific real world problem.  Past projects are presented below.

Academic Year 2016-2017

Five senior design projects in mechatronics engineering were conducted:

Montanas Del Sol:  A Solar Charging Station (for laptops and cell phones)

The purpose of the charging station is to create an avenue for students to be productive outside while receiving the benefits of sunlight and fresh air.  Artistic form coupled with engineering functionality and sustainability provide a stress-reducing environment in which students can comfortably work.

SowBot Automation  - Automatic Seed Planting System

The focus of this project was to develop a semi-automated tray seeding system.  It was intended for use by small scale professional operations for saving time during the seeing process.  It was intended to increase profitability through a sigificant reduction in labor and material costs as well as a low front-end investment.

An Open Source Platform for Robotic Reinforcement Learning

Q-Learning is a machine learning algorithm which is often a starting point for understanding and developing reinforcement learning concepts. This project involved building a crawler robot that can teach itself to walk.  The team plans to develop a robot kit with associated software that includes example machine learning code and a visualization environment.  The goal is to contribute to reinforcement learning research by making concepts accessible to more people.

Automatic Residential Load Offsetting via Battery Energy Storage System

Electric power delivery is based on a real-time supply and demand process.  Residential consumers using electrical grid, off-grid and photovoltaic collection systems can benefit from secondary energy storage. The goal of this project was to develop a convenient system to allow homeowners to optimize their electrical usage through an aotmated controller and battery energy storage system (BESS).

Magnetorheological Suspension System for a Downhill Mountain Bike

Active and semi-active suspensions offer many advantages over traditional passive systems in both performance and safety.  Magnetorheological dampers in a semi-active system offer a substantial performance increase over passive damping.  The introduction of sensor feedback and electronic microcontroller actuation turns a traditional mechanical system into a modern mechatronic device.

 

Academic Year 2015-2016

Four senior design projects in mechatronics engineering were conducted:

Four Powerpoint Slides of the Projects

Adventurous Mobility

This project was supported by the Asheville-based OutriderUSA company which produces electric mountain tricycles. The purpose of the project ws to offer fun and adventurous mobility to those who might not be able to enjoy it due to disabilities.  The mechatronics student team created a control system which could be activated by a joystick or by remote control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3STJcq-FZw

 

Mantra Automomous Agricultural Services Vehicle

This project involved a stock ATV vehicle which the student team equipped with a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) system for an agricultual purpose - navigating and mapping a banana orchard.  The system made use of Robot Operating System (ROS) in collaboration with the open source robotics community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ-nJZPi6o8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IgrBb36KTA

 

Quantifying Electromechanical Delay

This project was done in conjunction with Dr. Jason Wingert of the UNCA Health and Wellness Program.  Dr. Wingert's research explores the effects of a specialized physical therapy while working with Diabetic patients experiencing Sensory Processing Disorder.  The mechatronics students designed and produced a device which could quantify the electromechanical delay of a muscle and observe the effects of a specialized physical therapy treatment plan.  The ultimate goal is to decrease the EM delay of the muscle to decrease fall rates of patients.

 

Interactive Mechanical Display - a mechanical mirror

This project produced a mechanical display intended to promote the Mechatronics Program.   A mechanical mirror was chosen.  It is essentially a "mirror on the wall" which captures the viewer (via a camera) and displays the viewer to some effect mechanically such that the viewer "sees themselves" within the mechanical display.

 

Academic Year 2014-2015

Two senior design projects in mechatronics engineering were conducted:

"Smart" Inverter System for Power Generation Transient Damping

A system was designed to correct problems associated with the rise of distributed solar power.  The Smart Inverter enhances power system reliability by damping the transition rate of a generator subjected to adverse loading conditions.  It also provides for load shifting to better balance the intermittencies of supply and demand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZejiv007P4

Smart Inverter student presentation

Automated Solar Tracking System

A fully automated solar tracking system for industrial and domestic application was constructed and tested.  The system used GPS data and an array of sensors to track the sun's azimuth and elevation angles in order to accurately point a parabolic dish toward the sun.  The goal for this ropject was to position the dish to within one degree of the sun's azimuth and elevation angles, and to keep it within that range continuously throughout a maximum six-hour period.  This system has applications in the fields of energy collection and solat heating.

The dish for the tracker system

Academic Year 2013-2014

Two Wheel Drive Electronic Differential

The senior design team designed and built an electronically controlled, differentially driven, two wheel drive vehicle.  The vehicle employed a student-designed and constructed drive system; integrating two electric motors, two controllers and necessary sensors under the supervisory control of a microprocessor.  The vehicle hardware allowed for comparison of two rear axle configurations: 1) a single, solid axle with both wheels rotating in unison, and 2) a pair of independent axles, each with its own motor, controlled to provide differential operation.  Appropriate control schemes were implemented via a feedback loop through the microprocessor.  Standard automotive industry tests were adapted to gauge the difference in performance between the modes.

Academic Year 2012-2013

Interactive Water Display

An interactive fountain was built with the ability to track a user's position/motion.  It also had the ability to respond to those inputs.  Using a Kinect motion sensor interfaced with an Arduino microcontroller, the fountain received input from the user (sensed motion) which activated a series of solenoid valves releasing jets of water in response to the user's position.  In addition, the fountain controlled the pressure in the closed system to that the height of the jets remained unchanged regardless of the number of valves open at any one time.

Interactive Water Display Fountain and TeamWhat's behind the curtain?   The controlsNozzles before being hidden by dry ice cloud

Academic Year 2011-2012

Human-Hybrid Electric Bicycle

An electric bicycle was designed with a closed loop control system and a traditional bicycle was adapted for the system.  The control system enabled the input from the rider to be monitored and used to control the output of the motor coupled on the rear sprocket to maintain an easy riding feeling for the rider.  The final product was successfully ridden.

Human Mechatronic Hybrid Electric Bicycle

Academic Year 2010-2011

There were two senior design projects in mechatronics engineering:

The BeerBot

An automated system was designed and built for all-grain beer brewing at home.  The system was designed to take up the space and utility hookups of a standard stacked washer-dryer and to have a batch size of 5 gallons.  The BeerBot successfully brewed a tasty batch of porter which was sampled off-campus by audience members of legal age.

BeerBot Automated Beer Brewing System

Electronic Controls of the BeerBot

BeerBot Team Presentation

IEEE SE Con Hardware Challenge Robot

This team desisgned and built a robot to compete in the IEEE SE Convention Hardware Challenge.  The challenge required an autonomous robot to explore an environment after a disaster and seek out victims. 

IEEE SE Con Hardware Project

Academic Year 2009-2010

Play Generation

This design project was a joint venture with the UNCA sculpture class.  The goal was to create a human-powered piece of playground equipment which would generate electricity and would be safe, fun and educational in its operation.  The power was generated by a merry-go-round device under human power.  The electricity was used to power a light array which could be altered to create lighted designs (along the lines of a Lite-Brite set).  The final design had safety issues and was never fully realized.

Play Generation Merry-go-roundSara Sanders, STEAM Studio Manager, back in her student years

Academic Year 2008-2009

Solar Powered Steam Generator

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9o3F-yi2aw

Solar Steam Generator

 

Academic Year 2007-2008

Portable Materials Tester

Portable Material Tester

Academic Year 2006-2007

Solar Hot Water Heaters - Two Teams

The challenge was to design a solar hot water heater which could raise a tank of 40 gallons of water by a set number of degrees in a set period of hours.  Both teams were successful by utilizing parabolic reflection surfaces and active tracking of the sun's position.

Team 1 Thermal Tracking Hot Water Heater

Team 2 Solar Tracking Water Heater

Academic Year 2005-2006

Lift-Tilt-Rotate Wheelchair Device

The challenge was to design a device onto which could be driven a patient's wheelchair and which could then be secured and lifted, tilted or rotated to facilitate personal care such as dental visits, hair styling, etc.  This project was suggested by a member of the Asheville community.

Lift Tilt Rotate Chair Platform

Academic Year 2004-2005

No record

Academic Year 2003-2004

Quad Rover

The project was to design a rover vehicle which could be driven on the UNCA Quadrangle by remote control, wireless control or autonomously.

Academic Year 2002-2003

Mechatronic Sheep and Sheepdogs

Within a corral marked with an exit gate with signal, mechatronic sheep roamed about and were programmed to turn and run from other devices.  Mechatronics sheepdogs were tasked with herding the sheep to the corral exit and emptying the corral.  This project was accomplished with Lego kits.  This project was completed by the first graduating class of the BSE-Mechatronics degree program.

Mechatronics sheep and sheepdogsTeam photo

Unadorned Sheep and sheepdog